April 2020

Experience National Parks Through Virtual Tours

A view of mountains and a river in Yosemite National Park.A view of mountains and a river in Yosemite National Park.

A view of mountains and a river in Yosemite National Park.
A virtual tour of Yosemite National Park in California was created using virtual reality (VR) photography.

Due to the serious outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the United States, many national parks and park programs are closed. However, through webcams, videos, photographs, and virtual tours the National Park Service (NPS) and other sources are able to bring the country’s national parks to you.

National parks are lands set aside for their environmental or historic importance. The world’s first national park was Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. The lands for this park were set aside in 1872 by Congress and President Ulysses S. Grant.

In the early 1900s, President Theodore Roosevelt expanded the National Park System by setting aside more than 190 million acres of land. In 1916, the National Park Service was created to manage this land. Today, the NPS manages more than 400 national parks. National parks can be found in all 50 states and in some U.S. territories. These parks cover more than 85 million acres.

With a computer, tablet, or cell phone, you can experience the beauty of our national parks in the comfort and safety of your home. You can watch a bald eagle’s nest at Channel Islands National Park in California. Although bears are not very active this early in the year, the bear cams at Alaska’s Katmai National Park include highlights from previous years. If you time it just right, you may also be able to see the Old Faithful geyser erupt at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

For a more complete experience, you can try one of the NPS’s virtual tours. You can “visit” the Statue of Liberty and learn all about that important national monument. You can also join a park ranger to explore Kenai Fjords (Alaska), Hawai’i Volcanoes (Hawaii), Carlsbad Caverns (New Mexico), Bryce Canyon (Utah), and Dry Tortugas (Florida) national parks. A virtual tour of Yosemite National Park is available as well. It was produced not by the NPS, but by well-known virtual reality (VR) photographer Scott Highton. Any number of national park adventures are just clicks away. For even more virtual experiences, visit the NPS’s Photos and Multimedia page.

Image credit: ©4nadia/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
Question 1
Which of the following is the world’s first national park?

Question 2
Which national park offers bear cams for virtual visitors?

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